U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is trying to make coronavirus testing mobile.
Mucarsel-Powell, a member of the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force, visited a mobile testing site in her district Thursday and announced new legislation to increase testing in inner-city neighborhoods.
The legislation — dubbed the MOTION Act — was written in conjunction with House Majority Whip James Clyburn, and Mucarsel-Powell said the point is to provide testing for people who are shut out from traditional venues.
“Making sure our community has access to good quality healthcare has always been my job priority,” Mucarsel-Powell said Thursday afternoon during a visit to a Community Health of South Florida (CHI) mobile testing van in Homestead.
“We need this mobile clinic because families in south Florida have struggled to cope with rising healthcare costs, being uninsured and underinsured and finding quality care regardless of insurance status, which is why we need Medicaid expansion. … Access issues are why community health centers like CHI are so critical.”
The MOTION Act — which stands for Mobile Options for Testing in our Neighborhoods — would authorize $400 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in fiscal year 2020, and it would distribute grants to local health departments, university medical centers and community health centers to conduct mobile testing.
Mucarsel-Powell said CHI serves 80,000 residents in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, a majority of whom are uninsured or live in low-income households. More than 80% of those patients come from minority backgrounds, and Mucarsel-Powell said community health providers are playing an even greater role now.
“Because communities of color are disproportionately impacted by this virus, they are extremely vulnerable to sickness and death due to COVID,” she said. “In Washington, I have been fighting with the administration every single day to form a coherent national strategy to test and trace and provide treatment to everyone that needs it and also to fight for funding so that CHI can help our community.”
“During this pandemic alone, CHI has screened almost 10,000 individuals and provided coronavirus testing for over 6,200 people. This is critical work and, as I’ve been saying for months, widespread and accessible testing is the first step to getting this virus under control.”
Mucarsel-Powell said the advent of the mobile testing site has been a great win for her district, and she wants to build on that momentum and provide the same kind of boost to other communities that need it.
“It’s critical for these communities that lack the access to medical facilities for testing or those that don’t have access to vehicles or have difficulty accessing traditional walk-up or drive-through testing facilities,” she said. “I hope we can pass this through the House in the coming weeks, hopefully in September.”
Florida U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch, Darren Soto and Kathy Castor are co-sponsors of the legislation.